Didila Sari, Selling and Preserving Kain Songket from Padang

Wednesday, 09 January 2013
Beautiful traditional songket cloth from Padang Indonesia is becoming increasingly rare, which was what made Didila Sari determined to preserve it. To realize this, Didila, a finalist in the 2010 Mandiri Young Entrepreneur (WMM) competition in the Postgraduate and Alumni category (Creative Enterprises), started up her own business selling songket under the name Songket Pusako Minang. The business continues to thrive to this day.

Starting out with capital of Rp 5 million, Didila began by recruiting three songket weavers to create the patterns and weaves that she wanted. Didila acknowledged that she has no formal education in designing the sort of patterns and weaves that are used in songket. However, she said that no formal education was required for this, as long as one was willing to learn and think creatively.

“At the time, I tried to create songket based on my own ideas and creativity, while not abandoning its traditional character. I studied existing songket and identified what were its deficiencies and advantages. From there, I tried to make improvements in line with market tastes,” explained Didila, who originally hails from Minang.
She acknowledged that her initial marketing strategy was simple, involving nothing more than selling cloth to relatives, colleagues and a few shops in Padang. As a result, her ability to sell her songket was constrained by the size of her potential market. However, after running her business for two years and having consistently improved the quality of her weaves, she started receiving an increasing number of orders. As a result, she had to recruit more weavers to meet market demand.

However, Didila was not prepared to rest on her laurels, and decided to move to Jakarta so as to expand her market by opening a boutique. In addition to a bigger market, the competition in the Padang songket business in Jakarta is minimal as such cloth continues to be quite rare in the capital. “While there is competition, thank goodness I’m the only one to date selling Padang songket in Jakarta,” Didila explained.

Didila is determined not just to confine herself to the sale of songket cloth alone. Rather, she also wants to sell clothes made using songket. “I taught myself how to design and make clothes. If I want to ensure that the clothes and songket I make can be sold, I must be really smart in identifying market tastes,” she said.

In November 2011, Didila realized her plan when she secured space in a major shopping center in Tanah Abang, Jakarta. Her selection was a strategic one.

“I chose this shopping center because of its convenient location in the center of Jakarta. In addition, the area is a center for batik and woven products from all over the archipelago. So, it’s a good location for my boutique,” she explained.

After a year, it is clear that her choice of business location has borne fruit, with business at her Songket Pusako Minang outlet rising dramatically by 75% so as to give her a turnover that now averages Rp 150 million per month. Didila has since then opened a second boutique in the same area because of the high demand.
Didila acknowledged that the success of her business has been closely related to the support she has received from Bank Mandiri through the WMM program. “WMM has had an immense influence on the development of my business. It helped me broaden my horizons, and provided me with guidance and assistance on how to promote my products by sponsoring my attendance at various exhibitions, both at home and abroad,” she explained.

Source : Kontan